Kurt Reyson will sit out the remainder of NCAA Season 99 and what a way to go.
It feels like 2023 is the year in which the two Dominican schools tried to out-lose each other. But while the UST Growling Tigers have been in rebuilding mode for some time now, the Letran Knights are coming to Season 99 as the reigning and defending NCAA champions.
Reyson and Pao Javillonar were supposed to carry the championship tradition of the erstwhile four-peat-seeking Letran Knights alongside Kobe Monje, Kevin Santos, Kyle Tolentino, and Neil Guarino. Not only did Letran reel without Fran Yu, Louie Sangalang, Brent Paraiso, Tommy Olivario, and King Caralipio, but they also lost Bonnie Tan to the Northport Batang Pier. As of this writing, Letran is tied with the Arellano Chiefs for last place in the tournament.
The Chiefs need to win against the Mapua Cardinals, Lyceum Pirates, and San Sebastian Golden Stags while the Letran Knights need to emerge against the Benilde Blazers and the San Beda Red Lions.
While both teams are simply battling for the second-to-the-last place in the team standings, they are also poised to act as spoilers for the teams with the best chance to make the next round. Coming to the November 17 playdate, Mapua, LPU, and Benilde have breached the ten-win mark and they also have three games left in their schedule. The JRU Heavy Bombers have also entered the ten-win cap, but they have only two games left in their schedule. San Beda, the Perpetual Altas, and the EAC Generals have claimed eight wins in the tourney. With that said, Beda has four games left, the Altas have three games left, and EAC has two games left in their schedule.
There will be a new champion after four years.
But this is not entirely an NCAA blog, because I am also going to check out the other stories that could have positive and negative effects.
One of the worst things to happen to Warren Bonifacio is to reach the NCAA S97 Finals and fail to play in the NCAA S98 Final Four. I honestly believe that Bonifacio's draft stock plummeted with the way he and the Cardinals played during that season. At the moment, Mapua is poised to enter the Final Four and Bonifacio is averaging 10.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.7 blocks. While part of their success can be attributed to the gameplay of Clint Ecsamis, this is also Bonifacio's chance to at least score a spot for a PBA team in need of talent. I guess there is a chance for Bonifacio to play for the MPBL's San Juan Knights but maybe a strong Final Four showing can force Magnolia to tender an offer or at least give another PBA team the idea of signing him for at least a one-conference deal.
I think there is a chance that Kurt Reyson will get a spot in Northport, Terrafirma, or Converge (since he played for the Pampanga Giant Lanterns in the MPBL) when he applies for the PBA Draft. With that said, he needs to double down on his game moving forward. Apart from the earlier Bonifacio mention, his final year is kind of a letdown. Reyson's averages of 13.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.5 assists are enough to turn heads. With that said, this is Reyson's time in the spotlight and Letran is only good for potentially just four wins. Reyson will definitely make up for lost time in the MPBL but given his current standing and how the NCAA is perceived in the PBA Draft, as of this moment, he's like in the 20 to 40 PBA Draft spot.
THE SAN SEBASTIAN PLAYERS
JESSIE SUMODA, RAFAEL ARE, AND ROMEL CALAHAT
So here's the thing about these guys - I don't know if they can play in the PBA as of this moment. The reality is that they had to lead San Sebastian to the Final Four to at least turn a couple of heads. With that said, they might find a couple of teams interested in their services. Jessie Sumoda is a sweet-shooting big guy with averages of 6.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. Rafael Are is the team's second-leading scorer with 11.5, and he also leads the team in assists (3.7) and steals (1.6). And then there's Romel Calahat. For the second year in a row, he is an almost double-double magnet with 12.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.4 steals, and 0.6 blocks. Of the three players, Calahat is the most PBA-ready and I bet he's going to join a 3X3 team in the near future.
THE OTHER PICKS
ENOCH VALDEZ (LYCEUM), JL DELOS SANTOS (JRU), AND CLIFF JOPIA (BLACKWATER)
Enoch Valdez is number one in terms of points, rebounds, and steals (14.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.9 steals) and he will probably help NLEX's second unit. And the good thing about the current version of the Road Warriors is that they do not have a player like him - a CJ Perez somewhat mini-version that is a combo of finesse and slam-dunking force. In some ways, JL Delos Santos is almost in the same boat as Valdez - in the sense that they are coming in the season late and to survive the PBA, they need to double their efforts. JL is not a scoring machine but he is an outstanding combo guard. This season, he averages 7.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 2.2 steals. Time and again we have seen collegiate role players do better in the PBA because they know their specialty. And I don't know what Cliff Jopia's status is with Blackwater (5.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks) but there is a chance that the Bossings will finally have a 6'9 player that they can properly use (unlike Maurice Shaw.)
No matter what happens in the tournament, both players are going to play in the PBA this season. With that said, carrying a title will give them perks.